Lights, camera, action! Actor Trayvon Williams has graced the silver screen in projects such as “Time Toys”, “No Regrets”, and “Legend 2”. Now, the rising star is switching gears to a creator and so much more. Recently, Williams took time out of his busy schedule to talk to us about his latest project, “Condemn”.
“Condemn” is a new series created by Williams. This series takes a look at HBCU life in a different perspective. “Condemn” the series is unique in many ways. First, the entire series was filmed on the Jarvis Christian College campus. “Condemn” is the first project of this magnitude that has been done in the school’s 106-year existence. Second, Williams’ entire team was composed of inexperienced students that he trained himself to build something that will last a lifetime. Williams explains how he came up with the concept of his new series.
“The inspiration behind the show was, me trying to create something that pretty much has never been done before by a university. I wanted to provide opportunities. As you know, I have been in Hollywood for about four years doing films and shows. I came back physically on campus to build a legacy. I didn’t want to be somebody that was just from Hollywood. I wanted to come back and do something. I wanted to give opportunities.
That was my inspiration for doing the show. The story [for the series] came about over the New Years break. I was trying to think of something that was relatable. Something that I could create that we liked at the school. At this school, it is something different. HBCUs are a topic within itself, but at Jarvis Christian College you know that anything is possible and anything can happen once you get behind the white gates. I wanted to create a story from my experiences. I knew that the kids at school would be able to relate to it.”
The characters of “Condemn” are not your run of the mill characters. Each character in the series is complex but relatable at the same time. It will be hard not to see traits of yourself in at least one of the characters. Tray tells us why he most identifies with his character, Kashmere.
“Kashmere is a guy that is a mentor. He is a tutor on the campus. I try to be a big brother to a lot of kids. I mentor and do a lot of stuff behind the scenes that I don’t post about. So, Kashmere probably fits me the most for sure.”
With relatable characters and a realistic HBCU feel, Tray wants his audience to take away the knowledge that anything is possible after watching an episode of “Condemn.”
“I want the audience to take away a lot of things after watching an episode. First, I want them to know that anything is possible no matter what your circumstances are. I also want them to know that you have to take advantage of opportunities. You never know when opportunities are going to present themselves. Lastly, even when you don’t have a lot, use what you have around you to create. Don’t make excuses make results.”
Taking On A New Role
Williams is used to being in front of the camera, but when it comes to “Condemn,” he took on the role of his life. Not only was he the writer on the project, but he also served as the director, acting coach, and much more. Tray explains his transition from in front of the camera.
“Teaching and being a leader is something that I have always been good at. I think when you have experience, and you have been through pretty much a lot of stuff in LA. You tend to learn a lot because you can’t really rely on a lot of people. So for me, I was excited…I wanted to see everything we do in LA from the beginning to the end. I had someone step up for me and coach me and help me a little bit…matter of fact I had about three (3) or four (4). Someone has always stepped up and tried to help me.
Being a leader and mentor is very important to me, and it showed me on a one on one basis my strengths and my weaknesses. I love being behind the camera just as much as I love being in front of the camera. I love being able to build something from scratch and see it come to life. I think that is what it is all about. It’s about bringing people up with you. I don’t want to be the only one at my school out here in Hollywood doing good things. I wanted to come back and pretty much teach them everything they needed to be successful so they could join me as well. So, it was a dope transition. I love the transition. It’s tough, super challenging, and super hard but I think I have taught them a lot of lessons that they can use to progress their life.”
Tray often shares wisdom with young actors trying to make it in the business. He makes sure that they know what is truly important.
“You have to invest in yourself before someone else will invest in you. You have to go all out yourself because no one is going to see your vision the way that you do. God gave you that vision for a reason. So sometimes you have to jump off that cliff and go for it.”
When casting for his new series, there were certain characteristics that stood out to Tray.
“When you write something, you have this vision of each character. Even if it is like thirty (30) characters, you have a vision for each character. For some reason, I’ll get this intuition…I’ll say it’s from God, but I get this feeling when I know something is right. What also caught my attention was a certain look and if they could follow direction. At the auditions, I was testing them to see if they could follow directions. Once I saw that they could follow directions, then I was like ‘Okay, I can work with them’”.
“Some of the characters were created from people that I already knew at school, and I liked their personalities. I cast people who I felt had a good chance of making it in the business. I wanted to put these kids in roles that I felt like they could thrive in the most. I wanted to allow them to be themselves, especially for their first project. I wanted to create characters that people would want to follow. For example, the lead character is naive and knows it all, but she slowly learns that she really doesn’t know anything. I think every girl has been able to relate to that at some point in their life.”
The Show Never Stops
Trayvon Williams gives a new meaning to the phrase “Hardest working man in showbiz.” Not only did he take on some major responsibilities for this project, but he did it all while returning to school to complete his degree.
“I was born to do this. Since this all started, I have probably slept up to 10 hours each week up until this week. My classes are online at the school, and I have one in-house class. So I can sort of move around freely. On top of all that, I work in the cafeteria as a cashier. So it is a lot of time management. I would stay up until four (4) or five (5) in the morning training people. Then have to get back up at seven (7), because I had to be at work at 7:30 am. I had this vision in mind, and I will do whatever it takes to get the job done. I don’t want to make excuses. I need to make it happen.”
Be on the lookout for “Condemn” the series to hit a streaming service near you this summer. To keep up with the many projects of Trayvon, you can follow his social media here.